Who are your customers? Five tips for defining your Customer Avatar

by Sarah Steel

So who are your customers?

It doesn’t matter how good you are at social media, if you don’t know the answer to this question your online efforts are likely to be largely wasted. And yet it’s amazing how many companies (many of whom really should know better) will provide answers ranging from “everyone” through to “anyone who can afford our product”. It doesn’t take long to realise that marketing to “everyone” could start to get really expensive. Even if you just target “anyone who can afford it”, you’re not really narrowing it down a lot.

In reality, we need to be more specific. A lot more specific. And of course, this scares the living daylights of many companies, because they are convinced that by being very specific they are making their market much smaller. Although on the surface this is true, the effect is actually the opposite; by speaking directly to people who fit a very specific profile, you will vastly increase the chances of them buying your whizzy gadget, nifty app or super service.

Defining your Customer Avatar

To do this, you need to have a particular “person” in mind. Now I’m not a big fan of pigeon-holing anything (just ask me what “type” of music I like, if you want to get me started!), but this exercise is really important in clarifying your own goals and focussing your attention on the people who really matter to your business. Of course we are not all the same, but identifying key characteristics that you believe your customers have in common, means your message will resonate with exactly the type of people you are trying to attract. Consider the following key aspects of your ideal customer:

  • Demographic – age, gender, geographic location
  • Lifestyle – employment, family, home, transport etc
  • Personality – e.g. generous, determined, optimistic, pedantic etc
  • Interests – hobbies, sports, favourite travel destinations, reading matter, tv programs etc
  • Favourite things – three things they wouldn’t be without right now

But wait, don’t get bogged down in this! It’s actually quite a fun exercise, and doesn’t need to go into huge amounts of detail. A brainstorming session with a couple of colleagues should nail this within an hour or two. Just pick the three main ones for each category; if your list gets too long you’re losing focus!

Visualise!

Now, visualise that person. If necessary, trawl image libraries to find a picture of a person who best represents your target customer, then print that picture out and pin it above your desk! Although the arrangement of the key elements is slightly different than suggested here, I love this example found on diymarketers.com:

Now, every time you post a social media update, direct it to this person (no not Smooth Sebastian, silly, use your own avatar!). Ask yourself if what you are about to say is something that will be of interest to that person. Hey, you won’t always get it right, but you’ll be a darn sight closer than if you’re trying to speak to “everyone”!

Of course, this article really just touches on this well-documented topic. If you have a favourite trick that helps you to speak to your true audience, please do share in the comments section below…

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